Archaic or obsolete vocabulary and grammar.

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7answers
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Why does legal English continue to remain archaic?

Perhaps this is a question for Law.SE if one exists, but I am asking here as there are other nice questions on English history. There is some historical development account presented in Wikipedia, ...
36
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7answers
6k views

Why use “of” in the phrase “delivered of a baby”?

With all the "Royal baby" craze comes something that really confuses me. All the news media used pretty much the same sentence to make the announcement: The Duchess of Cambridge has been ...
23
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7answers
3k views

Does “gay” still include the meaning “merry”?

Dictionary.com lists eight meanings of gay, with “merry, lively” as the first entry. Microsoft banned an Xbox user for listing Fort Gay (a real place) as his hometown: Xbox Live considered the ...
21
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7answers
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Is “He is risen” Correct?

This is not correct, right? Mixing present tense and past tense makes me think it is not correct but I see it so often on signs that I'm not even sure any more. Is there a specific reason why it's ...
20
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5answers
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King James Bible archaic style

I am currently reading the King James Version of the Bible and I have noticed some features that I would like to know more about. Almost every verse of the First Book of Moses starts with “and”. ...
18
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6answers
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When should I use archaic and obsolete words?

I'm learning the English language, and while reading Merriam-Webster I often see common words with additional "obsolete" and "archaic" descriptions added to their definitions. When should I use ...
17
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5answers
22k views

Is “from whence” correct? Or should it be “whence”?

I just saw a parody on the Lord of the Rings, where one of the characters says: it must be cast back in the fire from whence it came! This struck me as odd, since I expected them to say "whence ...
17
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2answers
2k views

Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
16
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4answers
13k views

What happened to the “‑est” and “‑eth” verb suffixes in English?

What happened to them, and how were they once used? Straining my mind to sound archaic, I came up with the following: Dost thou thinkest thou can escape thy sins? and Bringeth me mine armor ...
14
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2answers
977 views

What do “orange” and “spindle-shanked beaux” mean in this quote?

While looking up the word "bye" I found this 18th century quotation. Our present race of spindle-shanked beaux had rather close with an orange wench at the playhouse, than engage in a bye battle ...
14
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2answers
622 views

Did people ever use the word “cock” as a euphemism for “God”?

English has a lot of surprises. When I was checking the etymology of "cocksure", I found this entry in Oxford Dictionaries: 1 British A male bird, especially of a domestic fowl. Below is ...
14
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6answers
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What is the name for the grammatical device of putting “not” after a verb to negate it?

Here's a passage (more or less taken randomly) from the American Standard Version of the Bible from 1901: 1 Peter 3:14 (ASV) 14 But even if ye should suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed are ...
12
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4answers
2k views

What is the origin of the word “conk”?

Is it obsolete to use this word? Where does it come from? I couldn't find the origin of this term. Can I use the phrase "The machine conked out" or should I replace conked out with something else?
11
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6answers
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What was “well met!” supposed to mean?

I know it was a sort of archaic greeting, but I don't know how to interpret the actual words. I had a foggy idea that it meant "It is good that we met here and now", but even then, "well met" is not ...
10
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8answers
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Is there a similar word to 'twain' but meaning 'three' instead of 'two'?

I would like to split something into three parts, is there a phrase I can use with similar overtones to "cleave in twain"?
10
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2answers
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“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
10
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4answers
564 views

What exactly is “noonday night”?

In answering the question Is there a term for “midnight” that is like “noon”, I came across the phrase noonday night listed as a synonym for midnight in my copy of Roget's International ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Meaning of “Where will wants not, a way opens”

I have been reading "The Lord of the Rings" and came across this phrase in the "The Return of the King". “Where will wants not, a way opens, so we say,” he whispered. “and so I have found myself.” ...
8
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8answers
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Are older senses of “anent” still alive in any dialect?

The obscure preposition anent has a long history, going back as far as Beowulf: him on efn ligeð ealdorgewinna [line 2903] ("beside him lies his great enemy") It has carried many meanings, ...
8
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4answers
1k views

What did they call illegitimate children in Old English days?

I know that the word bastard in this sense appeard only in 13th century. So what was the normal term before that?
8
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2answers
384 views

Help me parse this sentence so I can understand what joke my ancestors played on the King

I'm reading an old history book about my ancestors entitled "Rulewater And Its People: An Account Of The Valley Of The Rule And Its Inhabitants" published in 1907 by George Tancred. In it, I'm having ...
7
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5answers
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What does “pray” mean in phrases like “pray proceed”?

Is this an archaic form of "please proceed"? I have never heard in in speech but sometimes it appears in novels. My version of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is full of it, apparently in place of ...
7
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3answers
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What part of speech is “methinks”?

Dictionaries call this word a verb, but it doesn't seem to behave like any other verb in the English language. Another question on this site calls it a “conjoined pronoun-verb combination”, which ...
7
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4answers
5k views

Why is the term “touched” no longer commonly used?

I’ve heard the term touched used to refer to someone who is “not quite right”. I’m curious as to where this term came from, what it really means, and why it doesn’t tend to be used often anymore. Is ...
7
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1answer
497 views

17th Century affectionate term for Mother

I'm writing a ghost story, and (in an admittedly well worn trope) a child ghost is looking for its mother; but how would a 17th century child affectionately refer to its mother? In short, what would ...
7
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3answers
2k views

Why “answer me” but not “answer me the question”?

Why are "answer me" and "answer the question" acceptable but not "answer me the question"? Is it similar to "explain me (something)"?
7
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1answer
521 views

Why has “sware” become “swore”, “bare” “bore”, etc?

As far as I know, there are four verbs (swear, bear, tear, and wear) whose simple past forms used to be (archaically) sware, bare, tare, and ware; but are now exclusively swore, bore, tore, and wore. ...
6
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2answers
228 views

What does “might” exactly mean in the following excerpt?

This is a excerpt from Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, and I want to know the exact meaning of might regarding the context. Some say by might we mean: being allowed to and some say it ...
6
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6answers
4k views

Words for different types of leatherworking

I'm looking for as many words (and corresponding definitions) as I can find for different specific types of leatherworking. Archaic words are fine, even preferred. Of particular interest is a single ...
5
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4answers
3k views

How can I say “girl” in archaic English?

I'm looking for an archaic replacement for the word girl ?
5
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5answers
25k views

“Much obliged” — Old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Portuguese ("Muito Obrigado") and maybe other languages, but certainly unusual in ...
5
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1answer
342 views

Could “old fashioned” mean “angry” or “disconsolate” in early 19th Century England?

Patrick O'Brian wrote the Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels during the late 20th Century, but the novels read as if they were written during the early 1800s (at least as far as I can tell, which isn't ...
5
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2answers
275 views

What is the meaning of “If the way Thou choosest, Lead to pain and loss”?

What is the meaning of "If the way Thou choosest, Lead to pain and loss"? How would you put it in modern English? It is a verse from Margaret E. Barber's song "The Path I Travel." The whole context ...
5
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1answer
285 views

The use of “la”?

I have read many a novel set in the Regency period where la is used in conversations. La, Susan, don't be so bothersome What is its purpose and correct use? Thank you for your insights.
5
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2answers
1k views

Did Victorians say “We are quit”?

Is “We are quit” (meaning “We’re even, no more mutual obligations”) a usage from the 18–19th centuries? Or are the examples of this on Google hits just people making it up (possibly a bad cognate ...
5
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2answers
516 views

Is using the word “singular” to describe someone or something unique an outdated adjective?

Is using the word "singular" to describe someone or something unique an outdated adjective? E.g. By a singular piece of good fortune, Mr. Athelney Jones, the well-known member of the detective ...
4
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9answers
2k views

Derogatory word or term for a peasant/lower class [closed]

What is a derogatory word or term for a peasant/lower-class person that is stronger or more insulting than pleb? It could be an archaic term used by nobles during the Middle Ages.
4
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5answers
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What is the origin and use of “remember me to her/him”?

Is anybody familiar with the use of remember as in remember me to her/him? I think I've see it in 19th century literature. Most likely it's archaic. I believe the speaker is commanding someone to ...
4
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4answers
628 views

Is there an old, rarely used word which means “an archaic word”?

I seem to recall from my youth, when my vocabulary was many times what it is today, learning a word (started with an 'a' I think) whose meaning was "an old, unused, or archaic word" or something ...
4
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6answers
11k views

What does it mean to “beat one's breast”?

I'm reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and was wondering what was meant by the action of beating one's breast. eg. The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, For he heard the loud ...
4
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4answers
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“Would” with a present meaning—is this correct?

A great example I can think of: "Please, leave! I would be alone!" With would meaning something like, "I want to be alone." Is this correct, or not? EDIT: To further clarify, I am not aiming ...
4
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3answers
445 views

Has the use of these prepositions evolved?

I have been working with an extract from an 1861 newspaper (in Queensland, now part of Australia) concerning an act of mass insubordination by seamen. The text reads The whole of the men, I am ...
4
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2answers
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What is a “hens party” and where is this phrase commonly used?

Where does the term come from, where in the world is the term used? I came across the usage in this article, with this paragraph as quoted: Keara O'Neil was on a shopping trip to find bridesmaid ...
4
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4answers
2k views

Exsanguination or Desanguination?

My wife was working on her lines for a play (Dracula) set in the early 1900s and one line caught my eye. It referred to the desanguination of the vampire’s victims. I’d always heard the term as ...
4
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1answer
171 views

What's the meaning of the word “spitters” in The Chemical Worker's Song?

Amongst the different versions of this song (Known by various names including "The Chemical Worker's Song", "Process Man" and "The ICI Song") that are floating around, there seem to be two variations ...
4
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1answer
291 views

Outmoded word for “next Tuesday”

I am writing an email and wanted to refer to this coming Tuesday. The phrase "Tuesday est" popped into my mind (something Miss Marple might have said) but when I googled it I could find no reference. ...
4
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3answers
158 views

Why is this a hyperbaton?

According to Wikipedia, this is a hyperbaton: "Whom god wishes to destroy, he first makes mad" — Euripides Is that right, and if so, why? My native language is Swedish, but I speak English ...
4
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4answers
707 views

“Who him?” as a stand-in for “Who is he?”

I'm curious: is this valid under some rule of grammar I don't know? Was it ever valid, or was it slang or a personal idiosyncrasy? Or (I shudder to think) was it invented by later authors, as a ...
4
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1answer
141 views

Uncertain whether pirate talk be authentically or mockingly archaic

@ZhanlongZheng asked the following question on ELL: Barbosa: I defended her mightily enough, but she be sunk nonetheless. Jack Sparrow: If that ship be sunk properly, you should be ...
4
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2answers
101 views

“how quicker” vs. “how much quicker”

I'm trying to settle a debate with my girlfriend. She says "how quicker" is incorrect and you should always use "how much quicker". Which of these is [more?] correct? See how quicker the cars ...